I know that some of you, upon reading the title, are shouting out-“Enough with the election, already. It’s coming out of my ears.” But I believe there are certain metaphysical and existential implications which haven’t been explored, but which greatly influenced the outcome. So if you’ll bear with me one more time, we’ll do a little exploring in those areas.
To recap what I wrote previously, Obama went into the campaign with one of the worst records an incumbent seeking reelection could have. High unemployment, an economy that was almost on life support, oceans of red ink due to huge budget deficits, and a weak foreign policy were just a few of the negatives on the top 10 list of reasons to not reelect him. In addition, Obama’s opponent was lucid, an excellent speaker, and looked presidential. But Romney was was also saddled down with a glaring set of negatives, not the least of which was being tied to the very large evangelical wing of the Republican party. If Romney was to curry favor with these religious fanatics, as he believed he had to, it basically meant owning a campaign that would be dissing minorities, especially Hispanics because of vehement anti-immigrant policies; women because of anti-abortion and anti-birth control policies; and the gay community because of the GOP’s basic homophobic fears. In addition, there was that core values thingy, where Romney was for universal health-care before he was against it, for legalized abortion rights before he was against them, for gun control before he was against it, etc. etc. I guess the GOP believed that most voters have short memories as well as attention spans, which is probably true.
So there you had it; 2 candidates that turned out to be the abysmal and the the abysmaler. ( Don’t bother telling me that’s not a word.) The choice came down to picking the least abysmal contender. On some level the public understood that, and early polls showed the race was essentially tied. Then came the Democratic convention around Labor Day, and Bill Clinton gave a rousing speech on Obama’s behalf, which led to a bump in the poll numbers for the incumbent. Clinton who now goes around with a permanent halo over his head, (where’s Monica Lewinski when you need her) probably had more to do with Obama’s reelection than anyone else. In any event, Obama maintained a small lead going into the first presidential debate in October. Possibly because of that, Obama decided it was siesta time instead of debate time, while Romney came on like gangbusters. Democrats and Obama supporters in general, were beside themselves in anguish, believing that the President had forfeited the election with his anemic performance. Overnight the polls began shifting in Romney’s favor and continued is his upward trajectory. Obama tried to recoup in the next 2 debates but the damage was already done. It seemed like victory was within Romney’s grasp. And then, as if by magic, the metaphysical factor kicked in.
Days after the official end of the hurricane season, which is October 31st, a powerful storm named Sandy, after killing several hundred people in the Caribbean, came barreling up the East Coast. It smashed into the New York-New Jersey area causing well over 100 deaths, and massive devastation and destruction. Some people, even now, are without power. With about a week to go before the election, Sandy gave the President an opportunity to act…..presidential. Obama took the day off from campaigning and went to New Jersey, met with Republican governor Chris Christie, and pledged all available Government assistance to helped the people affected by this tragedy. Christie put his arm around the Obama, thanked him profusely, and was generous in his praise of the President. It should be noted that Chris Christie is one of the shining new stars in the Republican party. Earlier this year, even the grand duchess of right-wing whackoville, none other than Ann Coulter herself, had endorsed Christie for president and pushed for his nomination. Now here he was making kind remarks about Obama.
The next day, Republicans across the nation were outraged by the Governor’s kind words. They called in to talk radio, went on TV, etc. to express their apoplexy over Christie actually being civil to the President of the United States. Didn’t he know that when it came to Obama, it was every Republican’s mission to bash and demonize him? Being civil? How un-Republican was that? Christie, who is still working 24/7 in recovery efforts for the people of New Jersey, as far as Republicans were concerned, went from star status to the dog house. But the chance to act presidential was therapeutic for Obama. Romney’s momentum in the polls was stopped and Obama’s fortunes began to rise. The rest, as they say at Yankee Stadium, is history. Polls taken of voters after the Obama victory, found that 42% stated that Obama’s presidential appearance with Governor Christie the day after Sandy struck, was a significant factor in making their voting choice. It was as if the universe was giving the middle finger to Romney, who until then, had led such a charmed and privileged life.
It should be noted, however, that being on the winning side of an election is a lot like being in the home town of the winning team of the world series or supper bowl. There is great euphoria the night of the victory, singing and dancing, and parades and celebrations for a few days after that. Then reality sets in with full force. You still have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, and get stuck in rush hour traffic as you schlep your way into the office. The screaming little ones in your family have to get fed, the chores have to be done, the house has to be cleaned, food shopping is necessary, bills have to be paid, and your rotten-to-the-core teenager will continually remind you of how clueless you are as to what really matters in this world. People will get sick, some will die, and babies will be born. For almost everyone, the rhythms and patterns of their lives will continue unchanged no matter who is elected. In the end, most people will come to realize that their successes or failures, their joys or sorrows, and the end results of the lives they lead, will depend almost totally on the nature of their actions, or inactions as the case may be.
One last thing. The Senate race in Massachusetts resulted in the election of a woman named Elizabeth Warren. For those of you unfamiliar with her background, she was a Harvard professor who President Obama picked as the first chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. For the dying breed of true blue liberals in this country, she is considered a rock star. Except for Barack Obama in 2008, no one has been hailed as the true defender of the liberal faith since Bobby Kennedy, before was shot and killed in 1968, the way Elizabeth Warren is being hailed today by liberal followers. She is already considered as a powerful candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2016. (Don’t, for a moment, think that the race for 2016 didn’t start on November 7th, the day after the election.) In any event, wouldn’t it be neat, if the choice in 2016 came down to Elizabeth Warren for the Democrats, and Sarah Palin for the Republicans. Now that would be a race worth writing about.